Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Returning to Galilee

The water was calm that day. I stood there, my eyes closed, forgetting where I was for a moment until a single fishing vessel cut through the mirrored surface, inaugurating a rippling dance of light, movement and sound. “Could I really be here?” I thought to myself. “The place where the Savior of the world fed the multitudes, walked on water, delivered the Sermon on the Mount?” Jesus was here. I am here. I would never be the same. The Sea of Galilee.

After the resurrection, Jesus appeared to a couple faithful followers and said, “Go to Galilee; there [my disciples] will see me”(Mt 28:10). Jesus was asking the disciples to return to the place where it all started, the place where they heard the call, the place where they dropped everything to follow the Son of God. The One who was crucified they would see again. But where? Galilee.

“In the life of every Christian, there is another ‘Galilee,’ a more existential ‘Galilee’: the experience of a personal encounter with Jesus Christ,” Pope Francis announced in his Easter Vigil homily. This is a very important place, the Pope explained:

Returning to Galilee means treasuring in my heart the living memory of that call, when Jesus passed my way, gazed at me with mercy and asked me to follow him. To return there means reviving the memory of that moment when his eyes met mine, the moment when he made me realize that he loved me.[1]

This is not some nostalgic return to a golden age, Francis noted. “It is returning to our first love, to receive the fire which Jesus has kindled in the world.” We return to Galilee so that we might carry in these broken vessels the very Light of the world. We return to our first love so that we might love the world and transform it through the power of the resurrection.

 “Where is my Galilee?” the pope asks. “Do I remember it? Have I forgotten it? Have I gone off on roads and paths which made me forget it?”[2] In this Easter season, might we take a moment to reflect on our Galilee, to return to the place where Jesus first touched us, and perhaps, just perhaps, know it for the first time.[3]

Lord, help me:
Tell me what my Galilee is;
For you know that I want to return there
To encounter you and to let myself be embraced by your mercy.
~ Pope Francis

[1] Pope Francis, Easter Vigil Homily, April 19, 2014 at: http://m2.vatican.va/content/francescomobile/en/homilies/2014/documents/papa-francesco_20140419_omelia-veglia-pasquale.html
[2] Ibid.
[3] Taken from the famous T.S. Eliot quote, “We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”

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